Wednesday, January 2, 2002

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OTTAWA, January 2, 2002 ( - Archbishop Michael Peers, the head of the Anglican Church of Canada, warned in his New Year’s Day sermon at Ottawa’s Christ Church Cathedral that Canada’s move to eliminate all mention of religion from public life is dangerous. Archbishop Peers was reacting to the Canadian government’s official ceremony for the September 11 tragedy which purposely excluded all mention of religion in the name of pluralism. “This kind of thing would be not only a suppression of our pluralist reality, but also folly of the worst sort for our society,“he said.

The Ottawa Citizen reported that the archbishop recalled that prominent Canadians have suggested that what defines our country is “secularism, pluralism and democracy.”“Within that phrase, there is a powerful and potentially very serious conflict,” he said, noting that secularism is increasingly being defined as elimination of all religious references in public life, out of fear that religion will cause division. He warned that under communism, the suppression of religion has often proven to be literally a bloody failure. “Eventually that kind of suppression implodes on itself, because it is a broad denial of things that run far, far deeper than material life.”

See the Ottawa Citizen coverage from the National Post:

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CALGARY, January 2, 2002 ( - An interview with Alliance Leadership candidate Stephen Harper is published in the Jan. 7 edition of Report magazine. The following excerpts from the interview deal with Harper’s stand on abortion.

Q. During the last election the party was thrown into turmoil by questions of social policy. How would you prevent this from happening again?

A. I was the founding policy officer of the Reform Party, and I thought we had some of the right formulae there. I think that very sensitive and clearly religious denominational moral issues should not be issues of party policy, and the leader should be careful not to make his views the central issue. I think those issues should be left to free vote in the Commons. I think they should come up at the initiation of private members, and I think we can look at the citizenry raising them in a democratic process. But I’ve been very clear in this campaign - I don’t believe the party should have a position on abortion. I don’t believe an Alliance government should sponsor legislation on abortion or a referendum on abortion. Even in a conservative party there are going to be wide differences of opinion on a question like that.

Q. When you are asked your personal opinion on the lack of an abortion law in Canada, what will you say?

A. Because I’m running for the leadership, I tend to not spend a lot of time discussing these issues, because of the danger that the leaders’ views become the party’s views. My own views on abortion, I’m not on either pole of that and neither of the interest groups on either end of this issue would probably be comfortable with my views. I just leave it there.

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AMSTERDAM, January 2, 2002 ( - The law to legalize euthanasia by lethal injection, approved in the Dutch parliament last April, took effect yesterday, giving the Netherlands the notorious distinction of being the first country in the world to legalize the practice. While the practice was tolerated for decades in the country, with doctors practicing it hardly ever facing censure, the debate over official legalization garnered attention.

About 10,000 pro-life protesters surrounded the parliament building, praying, singing hymns and quoting the Bible during deliberations on the day of the vote. The parliamentarians rejected tens of thousands of letters urging them to vote against the bill and a petition of 25,000 signatures submitted by the pro-life group “Cry for Life”.

Just weeks after the law was approved, the Dutch Health Minister pushed for allowing a suicide pill for non-terminally ill patients. The debate over this next stage is now underway in the Netherlands.

See related coverage from the National Post and BBC:

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BEIJING, January 2, 2002 ( - The communist government in China passed a law on Saturday which officially codifies its one-child population control policy. The Washington Times reports that the law lays out the policy which has been in effect in the country for 21 years.

The law forbids married couples to have more than one child if they reside in the city and two (if the first one is a girl) if they reside in rural areas. The policy has led to wide-scale sex-selective abortions of baby girls and has led to a serious gender imbalance in the country. The Times reports a ratio of boys born to every 100 girls in China, much higher than the international average of 106 to 100.

See the Times coverage at:

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ALBANY, N.Y., January 2, 2002 ( - Pro-abortion New York Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg is set to appoint State Sen. Roy Goodman to head the United Nations Development Corp. The Associated Press reports that sources have revealed the selection to head the city-state corporation which provides office space and other facilities for the United Nations has been completed.

AP describes Goodman as “one of New York’s ‘Rockefeller Republicans,’” and notes that “in the Senate, Goodman has been a champion of arts funding and gay and abortion rights.”

See the AP report:

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MD GETS PRISON FOR FORCED ABORTION AND ABDUCTION IN BOSNIA A doctor who abducted his former girlfriend and forced an abortion on her was sentenced yesterday to 6½ years in prison

BRITISH CATHOLICS URGED TO PRAY FOR PRO-LIFE The UK Society for the Protection of Unborn Children reports that the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales declared last Sunday, the feast of the Holy Family, a special day of witness to the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life. Parish priests were urged to incorporate the theme of respect for human life in their homilies and prayers during Mass, and special pro-life prayer cards were sent to all 2,800 parishes.

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North American Coverage Downplays Priest’s Warnings

NEW YORK, January 2, 2002 ( - In early December, Rome’s official exorcist, Fr. Gabriele Amorth, warned parents against the Harry Potter book series. The priest, who is also the president of the International Association of Exorcists, said Satan is behind the works. In an interview with the Italian ANSA news agency, Rev. Amorth said “Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil.”

The exorcist, with his decades of experience in directly combating evil, explained that J.K. Rowling’s books contain innumerable positive references to magic, “the satanic art”. He noted that the books attempt to make a false distinction between black and white magic, when in fact, the distinction “does not exist, because magic is always a turn to the devil.” 

In the interview which was published in papers across Europe, Rev. Amorth also criticized the disordered morality presented in Rowling’s works, noting that they suggest that rules can be contravened and lying is justified when they work to one’s benefit.

Of note, the North American coverage of Rev. Amorth’s warnings about Potter significantly downplayed the warnings. The New York Times coverage by Melinda Henneberger which was carried in Canada’s National Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and on Yahoo Daily News left out most of the information in the European coverage which is quoted above. It only quoted Rev. Amorth as saying that “If children can see the movie with their parents, it’s not all bad.” The Times report also fails to mention that the movie version has significantly cleaned up Harry’s image, making it less troublesome than the books.

See the coverage by the New York Times and the Italian coverage from Gazetta di Modena:

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